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Pizza Shop Gets Creative As Bills Fever Grips Area

Taking Shape

Jade Duska, general manager of Coppola’s Pizzaria in Erie, Pa., shows off on the restaurant’s signature Buffalo Bills pizza, which fans have clamored for all season long. Submitted photo

The Buffalo Bills fever gripping Western New York has found its way into every nook and cranny, including your local pizza shop.

Coppola’s Pizzaria in Bemus Point will be helping fans get into the spirit for Saturday’s playoff game with its signature Bills-shaped pie, which has become a staple during football season the past two years.

The pizzeria has experimented with specially formed pies in the past, such as a heart shape for Valentine’s day, but it is the one in the shape of a buffalo that has really struck a cord with customers this fall.

“I put a (social media) post on last week, a video when the Bills played New England on Monday night, and it got over 50,000 views within 12 hours,” said owner Luke Andriaccio. “Bills fans are the best fans in the NFL and they have been rallying on social media, on the phone calls. It’s just a fun thing to have.”

Two years ago Andriaccio started experimenting with a pizza for Western New York’s favorite team, ordering customer-made pans and working with his staff to perfect saucing, topping and cooking the buffalo shape.

“I started doing it a couple of years ago, but it has taken me a long time to perfect it,” he said. “I custom made my own Bills pans. I had a metal worker help me put it together. I framed my own Bills pan and then I made a couple of duplicates of them. It took a while to work with fresh dough, to keep it formed the way it was. To really make it come out formed as a Buffalo Bill, it took some trial and error. It took a couple of years to figure that out, because I had to be engaged in it to make it work.”

For last week’s final game of the regular season, Coppola’s received around 20 preorders for Bills pizzas, and the phenomenon continues to spread online.

“I started doing it as some advertising online. As the Bills started getting better these last couple of years more people were interested in it and–just the power of social media–it just took off from there really,” Andriaccio said. “The Bills pizza was my thing that I really wanted to figure out. I’ve always been wanting to do it.”

On many Sunday’s this season, the Coppola’s staff has been swamped with orders for Bills pizzas, stretching their oven’s capacity of 200-per-hour to the max.

And the demand extends beyond the borders of the empire state.

On Jan. 24, Coppola’s will celebrate the one-year anniversary of its second location in Erie, Pa.

Bills fandom knows no borders, it would seem.

“It is Pennsylvania but I still consider it Bills country,” Andriaccio said. “There are a ton of Bills fans in the city of Erie and they are smashing it like crazy down there too. It’s hard to keep up.”

Andriaccio has noticed some animosity cropping up on social media posts of his pizzas, most of it good-natured ribbing from Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers fans in the area.

“That’s fun too,” he said.

With demand rising along with hopes for a Bills playoff run, Coppola’s continued to take preorders for the themed pies before gametime.

However, in order to meet the demand, the pizzeria is often forced to stop taking them after kickoff.

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